How personality affects behavior in the workplace

The workplace brings together people from different backgrounds, philosophies, cultures and personalities. Diverse workplaces can encourage cooperation, teamwork and creative thinking. Personality differences can mean that individuals take varying approaches to work style and interacting with other employees, managers, clients and competitors. Understanding how personality affects behaviour in the workplace can help determine what might be motivating workers to perform or behave in certain ways.


Different personalities might affect what motivates people to participate in the workplace. Creative personalities see the workplace as a place to experiment with new ideas, achieve different solutions or incorporate artistic elements into products. Communicators may be motivated to discuss and debate business decisions. People with compassionate-focused personalities may view their work as serving humanity or making the world a better place. Competitive employees may view the workplace as an arena where they hope to beat out others to demonstrate their ability. Although motivations may reflect a mixture of several work-related goals, playing to people's strengths can boost motivation and result in better products and services. For example, assigning a competitive type employee the task of developing a campaign to beat out your primary competitor might be successful.

Interpersonal Relations

Personalities also affect workplace behaviour when it comes to interpersonal relations. One common personality model includes the "Type A" and "Type B" personality types. Type A personalities tend to do things quickly, feel rushed, and may be angry or hostile. Type B personalities take a more relaxed approach, completing one thing at a time and expressing their feelings. In some ways, personality differences can facilitate interpersonal relations. People might enjoy interacting with individuals whose personalities complement their own. But personality differences can cause problems. Type A personalities might appear overbearing to Type B personalities, causing friction. Type B personalities might seem too emotional to Type A personalities.

Work Ethic

Personality can also influence work ethic in the workplace. For example, someone with a freewheeling, fun-loving personality may struggle to buckle down, meet deadlines or be a shrewd negotiator when discussing contracts. Employers should take care to establish strong principles to guide work ethic choices in the workplace no matter what personality types are employed. For example, some people might think it's perfectly fine to take office pens and notepads home for personal use because they're generous with their own resources in the workplace.


Some people naturally assess their own performance in the workplace, setting goals and identifying areas for improvement. Others may focus on the task at hand, not reflecting on the past or planning for the future. Self-assessment can be a valuable tool for improving abilities. Employers may offer training and workshops to help employees better understand their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace.

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About the Author

Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

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